Money Revised – Anthony Matias

Wealth is perceived differently by many cultures. On an island called Yap located in the western Pacific Ocean they determine wealth by the size of the stone disks that they own. The bigger the stone the more it is worth. They trade currency by trading rocks for something of value. This is similar to the way that us in the United States trade currency but what we use to pay already has a set value which is determined by the government. In Yap, when using a rock to buy something the seller has to trust the buyer that the rock they are giving them is really worth what they say it is. After learning about Yap and how they conduct business it made me rethink a lot of things thought I thought I knew about money. Ever since I was little my opinion on money was shaped by childhood games such as Monopoly. The money in Monopoly works the same and they money in our current banking system and even the system that is on the island of Yap because the money is basically tangible objects that represent wealth. And in order for us to obtain things we need or sell things we don’t we need to use these tangible objects that “worth” something. Nothing but the rules of the game make a $500 Monopoly bill worth more than a $5 Monopoly bill. The same is true of the flimsy paper we call dollars.


So what dictates how much a dollar really is? Unlike Yap we don’t go by the size of a rock and trust the other person what it is worth. In the U.S. we just believe that a green piece of paper is worth what the government says it’s worth. We then buy goods based on those set denominations It does make everything more simple, and simplicity is what makes the world go round. Take credit cards for instance, people can press two buttons on a computer and send a certain amount of money or numbers in account half way around the world in a matter of seconds makes it easy for us as humans to trade, buy and sell much faster. Imagine if today instead of pulling out your credit card or a five dollar bill, you had to pay with giant stones or little rocks as they did on Yap, how hard would that be? Extremely hard. It is easier for us to grasp the fact that a dollar is worth what it is, because for as long as we have known that’s how it has been.


But they way we pay for things, make transactions and use the banks are easier than we think. The banking system is like a game of poker. You exchange the bills in your wallets for chips, to match the currency that everyone else is using, which are just representations of how much money you really have. You play a game betting your money on how much you think your hand is worth and whether you win or lose dictates how much money you have left. Just like your work a job you make money and then spend money but you never know how much you really have, it’s just numbers going back and forth between you and the dealer which in this case is the bank. So after reading and learning about the people on Yap I feel like I have a better understanding on why money is the way it is. It is all about making the once primitive bartering system simpler for us.

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One Response to Money Revised – Anthony Matias

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey Anthony! I’m glad to see this.

    P1. You say wealth is perceived differently, but that’s not exactly what you mean. You mean it’s represented differently, don’t you? (It may also be perceived differently, as in: “family is the only true wealth,” but here you’re talking about the coins or markers that signify buying power, not spiritual values.)

    similar to the way that we in the United States

    A value set by the government? No, it isn’t. The marketplace still decides what 5 dollars is worth because one day it buys two gallons of gas and the next day it barely buys one. The only thing the government “sets” is the relative value of those notes: two fives buys a ten.

    I disagree about what the Yap have to trust also. Granted, the fei aren’t marked with fives and tens, but their size, weight, shape, color, and polish determine their value (more or less the same for everyone who sees them).

    You’d be more correct if you said we have to trust that the hundred dollar bill we’re given isn’t counterfeit.

    . . . and they money . . . ?

    To a point, money is the tangible objects, but we’re way past that now, aren’t we, Anthony? Is my credit card a tangible object that represents wealth? Not at all. I can be broke and carry all the cards I want. The little messages “Approved” and “Denied” on the card swiper represent my wealth. But even they don’t reflect how much money I have, do they? They reflect how much credit I have. But that may be a topic for another day.

    Here’s a really brilliant sentence you wrote: Nothing but the rules of the game make a $500 Monopoly bill worth more than a $5 Monopoly bill. That’s terrific. Very clear and essential to your argument. Money is a game with game pieces. If we dropped a thousand boxes of Monopoly onto an undeveloped island, the inhabitants might start using those bills as currency, and they’d be worth just as much as the money minted by any government.

    P2. Fails for grammar Rule 12. Lose the rhetorical question.

    P3. Fails for grammar Rule 12. Yes, money makes barter easier, but what exactly is bartered in poker? Your analogy is useful in demonstrating how fluid a currency can be and that it can be traded for another as long as there’s a negotiated exchange rate. But the game in which the only commodity being traded is money is a little harder to grasp.

    This is strong overall, Anthony, and certainly an improvement over your first draft. Thanks for coming through with it. Grade recorded.

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